Tuesday, July 14, 2020 -
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It’s funny ‘cuz it’s true

In response to our first blog entry, Laibel ben Aaron raised the idea of Jewish comedy. We came across a short but clever joke, that lends a bit of humor to the discussion of religion.

A man says to his neighbor, “Our rabbi speaks directly with G-d.”

“That’s impossible!” the neighbor exclaims.

“Would G-d communicate with a liar?” is the believer’s comeback.

But in all seriousness, Laibel ben Aaron’s main observation – that some view Judaism as a religion, others as a culture – reflects a debate that’s been going on since the crisis of faith that began in the late nineteenth century.

Some nations are easier to define; others, such as the Jewish people, are much more difficult. At the core, we share a religion doctrine, but Jews and Judaism encompass varied traditions, ethnicities, races, cultures.

If a Jewish person chooses to celebrate one of those aspects, say the Hebrew language for example, is that enough to form a Jewish identity, to make him or her Jewish?

The flip side, of course, is can a gentile who forms a spiritual connection with let’s say Klezmer music, for example, be considered Jewish? This latter proposition is somewhat absurd, but it makes one ponder: Aside from birthright, what is it that makes someone Jewish?

One thought on “It’s funny ‘cuz it’s true

  1. Ben M.

    For a period of time, sometimes even a couple of generatins, non-religious Jewish traits can sustain Jews. But whatever it is — music, ethnicity, language (such as Yiddish), nationalism (such as Zionism) — eventually loses its attraction. This is perhaps seen most poignantly and tragically in the case of nationalism. Much of youth culture in Israel is an imitation of the (worst parts) of American culture, with the ultimate goal being emigration to America and success there. You can’t escape God and Torah if you want yourself, or at least your descendants, to stay Jewish. Which doesn’t mean that literature, language, music, etc. don’t have a part. But a Jew without God is ultimately a Jew disappeared.


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